To My Past Self:

What a year it has been! Sometimes I can’t believe all that has happened in just 12 short months. I have so much to tell you that I don’t know where to begin. The best place to begin is often the start, so why don’t we try that?

12 months ago you published five blog posts about your mental illness. Then you went out and shared them with the world. The response you got excites you to this day. Immediately, there was so much positivity and support that came from the simple act of capturing your thoughts about your bipolar disorder on paper.

I’m going to sound a bit arrogant when I tell you that your blog has made a difference. It really has. In fact, I think it’s the most important thing you’ve done in your life so far. Your writing has led people with their own illnesses and struggles to reach out to you. You have also created a space for people who had a hard time speaking about mental health to understand it and take it seriously.

You weren’t always consistent in your writing. There were depressive periods through this past year, so it wasn’t always easy to keep going. However, you stuck with it and kept trying to make a difference even in your difficult times. As you and I know, that’s why you’re doing this. You’re not sharing your mental health journey just so that people get to know you better (although that’s part of it). You’re not doing it just because you want to fight stigma about mental health (even though that’s an important fight).

No, you’re doing this because you want people with mental illness to know that they’re not alone, and you want every single person who reads your blog to understand that they must take their own mental health seriously. The point of all your writing is to help people realize that the strongest thing they can do is to be vulnerable. The strongest thing they can do is to reach out for help when they’re struggling. Each one of us carries our own difficulties and faces our own mountains that seem impossible to climb. We need help along the way.

I said earlier that this is the most important thing you’ve done in your life so far. I meant it. I think you’ve helped open up the minds of many people around you (it really does feel like that). This journey is not just yours – it also belongs to everyone who has joined you on this path. You found your purpose: working to help others to understand and improve their mental health.

There is a lot to be done still. There’s a lot to be said still. You have grand plans and ambitions because you believe in what you do and you believe you can make a difference. Stick with that conviction, even when it’s hard to know whether your blog and your voice are having an impact. Stick with it because you know it helped you, so why can’t it do the same for others?

I want you to know how proud I am of you. You’re doing so much better – in fact, when it comes to your mental health, you’re probably doing the best you have in your entire adult life. The work you started in the psych ward that put you on the path to being okay has continued. You’re diligent about your medication, because it is truly your salvation. You keep writing to better understand yourself and your illness, and that helps you so much. You continue to see a psychologist and your psychiatrist, making sure that your mental wellness is well-rounded. You’ve learned to identify the warning signs of an episode, and you know how to give your body and mind what they need to change course or prepare. Most of all, you haven’t had a hypomanic episode in almost a year and a half. Depression is still your clingy friend – that’ll never go away, but you’re doing your best to manage it (and you’re doing pretty well at that too!). It’s hypomania, the monster that stole everything from you, that is really in check. I can’t tell you how good that feels to say. Congratulations to you. 

Today marks the beginning of a new journey. You’re going to work harder than ever to help others. In fact, you’ve decided that is what is at the core of this mental health journey. You’re going to write more, you’re going to speak more and you have a big project you’ll be launching soon (more to come on that…). I’m proud of you for what you’ve done so far. I think you can do so much more.

Remember your purpose. Be a force for good in the world. Support every single person that comes to you for help. And never be afraid to embrace the worst of you. Sometimes, that is exactly what is needed to remember the best of you.

Talk again soon,

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